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The Tree by John Fowles
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The Tree (original 1979; edition 1983)

by John Fowles (Author)

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278881,648 (3.76)12
In this series of moving recollections involving both his childhood and his work as a mature artist, John Fowles explains the impact of nature on his life and the dangers inherent in our traditional urge to categorise, to tame and ultimately to possess the landscape. This acquisitive drive leads to alienation and an antagonism to the apparent disorder and randomness of the natural world. For John Fowles the tree is the best analogue of prose fiction, symbolising the wild side of our psyche, and he stresses the importance in art of the unpredictable, the unaccountable and the intuitive. This fascinating text gives a unique insight into the author and offers the key to a true understanding of the inspiration for his work.… (more)
Member:sayyid
Title:The Tree
Authors:John Fowles (Author)
Info:Book Sales (1983), Edition: 1st American ed, 122 pages
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The Tree by John Fowles (1979)

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English (7)  Finnish (1)  All languages (8)
Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
This is a collection of some sixty photographs from Frank Horvat's series "Portraits of Trees", accompanied on the facing pages by an essay by Fowles in which he reflects on the ways he and Horvat and other creative artists engage with nature in general and trees in particular, and how impoverished we are when we only see nature in a reductive, scientific, utilitarian way. It's sometimes quite difficult to focus on his quite abstract arguments when you have Horvat's gorgeous images leaping out at you from the opposite page, but it's worth it: there's more to it than holistic seventies tree-hugging.

It is quite amusing the way Fowles insists on the complexity and interelatedness of the forest whilst Horvat is doing everything he can to sterilise and isolate his specimens. You sense that his ideal tree is the one standing by itself in a snowy French field where there is no clear distinction to be seen in the background between earth and sky, whereas Fowles imagines himself in the densely wooded dells of the Undercliff at Lyme Regis. Of course, that's an oversimplification, Horvat admits a few groupings of trees and Fowles also talks about his father's immaculately pruned fruit trees, but they don't seem to have a huge amount in common. ( )
  thorold | Jan 21, 2022 |
Fowles confounded my expectations: of the 101 pages in my edition, perhaps 12 are given over to a description of woodland and trees, and those twelve provide him with further material to ponder the relationship between people, as individuals and as societies, and nature. Starting with a meditation on the differences between his own and his father's views of nature, Fowles takes in art, science, religion, and the essential ineffability of existence. ( )
  Michael.Rimmer | May 5, 2018 |
This book is a wonderful antidote to those who see nature as a "system" or a "machine" that is somehow apart from us. Fowles sees the natural world instead as a community that we're inextricably bound up with. Trees are companions, even friends. A profound meditation:

"The particular cost of understanding the mechanism of nature, of having so successfully itemized and pigeon-holed it, lies most of all in the ordinary person's perception of it, in his or her ability to live with and care for it--and not to see it as challenge, defiance, enemy." ( )
  MichaelBarsa | Dec 17, 2017 |
This would be the third nature-based book out of the last four I've read. The Tree is a special book in that it is a 2010 reissue of a 1979 essay by the late, great novelist, John Fowles. It's a short work in which Fowles is exploring where nature fits into modern man's life, as well as its role in the inspiration of all manner and form of man's art..

His father had always kept a neat, orderly, heavily-pruned orchard and garden. John's much lighter hand on his own land made a strong impression on him. "I think I truly horrified him only once in my life, which was when, soon after coming into possession, I first took him around my present exceedingly unkempt, unmanaged and unmanageable garden." ( )
  jphamilton | Jul 19, 2014 |
This is a remarkable book with some wonderful views of trees. Frank Horvat is the photgrapher and this book evolved from a major exhibition in Nantes, France. There is a romantic sense to these trees and their setting. The commentaries by John Fowles are a paean to the artistry of Horvat. Some of the striking photgraphs for me were a line up plane trees in Var, France in the late winter looking almost like a Jackson Pollack painting in monocolor; a beech forest where the beeches are so close they do not have their typical full branches, maples and conifers in Vermont, a wind-swept pine in Corsica (the cover photo), poplar and willos in Jura in the early winter, a muted beech (faux de verzy) in Champagne, an organ pipe cactus in Arizona. ( )
  vpfluke | May 19, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
John Fowlesprimary authorall editionscalculated
Fiennes, WilliamIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Horvat, Franksecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kluz, EDIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Neill, WilliamPhotographersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The first trees I knew well were the apples and pears in the garden of my childhood home.
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In this series of moving recollections involving both his childhood and his work as a mature artist, John Fowles explains the impact of nature on his life and the dangers inherent in our traditional urge to categorise, to tame and ultimately to possess the landscape. This acquisitive drive leads to alienation and an antagonism to the apparent disorder and randomness of the natural world. For John Fowles the tree is the best analogue of prose fiction, symbolising the wild side of our psyche, and he stresses the importance in art of the unpredictable, the unaccountable and the intuitive. This fascinating text gives a unique insight into the author and offers the key to a true understanding of the inspiration for his work.

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